What is a Bastien Gonzalez pedicure and does it live up to the hype?

It takes a little getting used to, a pedicure by Bastien Gonzalez. First off, there isn’t any soaking – or water for that matter. It’s a painstaking process that can take up to 90 minutes and at the end, you leave without toenail polish. Then there is the price – Dh510. Is it worth it though? Ann Marie McQueen finds out.

The practitioner

Jeremy Jeune, the Tahitian studio manager in charge of my feet during my session at The Spa, One & Only Royal Mirage, is an actual podiatrist trained in France. Bastien Gonzalez, the French chiropodist behind these unique treatments, only hires podiatrists trained in France to execute them.

The treatment

The Bastien Gonzalez pedicure takes about 60 to 75 minutes, although Jeune tells me that it can stretch to 90 minutes for feet that are in terrible shape. Although I am comfortable laid back in an elaborate, barber-type chair, I feel smug when mine is done in under an hour. Since this is a dry treatment, there is no soaking and no water touches my feet. There are three tools used: a gouge, a glass file and a tiny drill. The drill is much less scary than it sounds. Essentially Jeune uses it to remove the superficial layer of each nail and with it, the brownish-yellow hue that has taken up residence there from the constant use of polish. I grow slightly uneasy with a thin stream of smoke rising, but Jeune calms me.

“It’s scary,” he confirms. “Because sometimes the guest has already seen this machine at a saloon, and they have removed too much.”

After drilling away at each toe – I couldn’t feel a thing – Jeune massages a very, very fine buffing cream containing mother-of-pearl onto them.

He then spends 15 minutes with a gouge removing hard skin from my feet, but not cutting the cuticles because they are “the waterproof barrier of the nail against fungus, bacteria, infection”. Filing is done expertly with a glass version – glass is washable, which cuts down on bacteria – and when I witness the flair with which Jeune buffs up each nail with a tiny chamois, attached to a natural horn buffer, it is as exquisite as Salt Bae seasoning a piece of meat.

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